Signalling is all about helping your partner defend better.  Consider what your partner needs to know, from his/her perspective.

Signaling has a lower priority than:

  • Winning a trick / hand
  • Second hand low
  • Covering an honor with an honor
  • Splitting honors
  • Third hand high 

General play signaling:

  1. In the 2nd and 3rd seat,  when playing from equal cards, use the lowest.
  2. In the 4th seat, when winning a trick from equal cards, use the lowest.
  3. Signal with the loudest card you can afford.


Attitude Signaling – signaling presence or absence of  critical honor cards

  • Signals indicate the suit that was played, not the suit that was lead.
  • A higher spot card (~5 – 9) indicates encouragement in that suit
  • If your hand is strong enough, consider a hold up play to allow your partner a chance to signal.
  • If you can’t afford an encouraging signal in a suit, you can discard a discouraging signal from a suit you don’t like.
  • When to Signal:
    • When your partner leads a honor, signal on your FIRST card if you have a critical honor in the suit!
      • Signaling with an honor means you hold the next lowest honor, and do not hold the next higher.  
        • Exp:  K lead, promising the Queen, you should signal that you have the Jack or Ace.
        • When the Ace is lead, promising the king, and:
          • You hold the queen, signal high.
          • You do not hold the queen, signal low!  You want your partner to lead another suit, so that you can lead declarer’s queen into partner’s King.
    • Following your partner’s lead, and your RHO appears to be winning the trick.
    • In a no-trump contract, when the King is lead.
      • Signal is not for holding an honor, but encouragement for continuing the suit.
        • Only ask when holding Ace, King, small.  When  holding 4 or 5 cards, lead 4th best.
        • Discourage with short and weak holding.
        • Consider encouraging with long and weak holding.

Suit Preference:

  • When to signal:
    • Your first discard means something! Responder should replay  or not-play the suit depending on the signal.
    • When you play a card your partner is going to ruff.
    • On partner’s lead, AND when it is obvious that you don’t want your partner to continue a certain suit (like when the dummy would trump the next lead)
  • How to Signal: 
    • A high card means you want a lead from the higher of the remaining two suits in dummy
    • A low card means you want a lead from the lower of the remaining two suits in dummy.


Signaling Count:

  • When to signal:
    • When declarer or dummy leads a suit.
    • Signal (current?) count if attitude is already determined.
    • When partner leads the Ace in a no-trump contract.  
      • Response:  play an honor if you have it, otherwise, signal count.  
  • Asking for count:
    • When partner leads the Ace in a no-trump contract.  
      • Only lead the Ace when
        • You have a strong run-able suit, headed by Ace/King.
        • You have a missing honor
        • You want to know if your partner has your missing honor.
        • Not recommended when missing two middle honors.
      • Response:  play an honor if you have it, otherwise, signal count.  
  • How to signal: 
    • A high card indicates and even number of cards.
    • A low card indicates an odd number of cards.